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NHL DFS Primer: Thursday (10/21)

by Matthew MacKay | @Matt_MacKay_ | Featured Writer
Oct 21, 2021
Logan Couture

After a small two-game slate on Wednesday that saw Philadelphia handle Boston and St. Louis surge over Vegas, Thursday presents a tantalizing ten-game slate that offers plenty of value and lineup-pairing opportunities. It’s only the second week of the season but the return of fans to arenas and the non-restrictive divisional play has provided plenty of energy for players and viewers alike.

My recommendations from Tuesday fared extremely well, with only Jeff Carter (C – PIT) failing to produce a point despite rattling off four shots on goal. Teams with good records are underdogs on the Moneyline in several contests on Thursday’s slate, so pivoting to the total goals over/under metric helps identify the games that could contain higher-octane offensive play. These are the games to hone in on, selecting a couple of talented top-line or second-line skaters in the offensive zone.

Here are skaters and goalies that will yield enough production to cash out lineups during a jam-packed Thursday night in the NHL.

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Recommended Plays: DraftKings

DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000

Logan Couture (C – SJ): $6,200
San Jose sits at 2-0 heading into Thursday night’s road contest against the Ottawa Senators and their first-line center, Logan Couture, is a big piece of the offensive puzzle. Couture has produced at least a point in each of his two outings and is coming off of a two-assist effort in a win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. Matt Murray (G – OTT) is expected to be in the crease for Ottawa on Thursday, meaning the incentive for rostering Couture grows substantially. Murray has returned from the injured reserve but allowed 3.38 GAA and a sub-.900 save percentage in 24 starts last season, so the odds of Couture continuing to produce assists remains high. Plug Couture into lineups and watch the points pile up.

Pavel Zacha (LW – NJ): $5,200
Another surprise team has to be the New Jersey Devils. Led by Jack Hughes (W – NJ), Ryan Graves (D – NJ), and Tomas Tatar (W – NJ), first-line winger Pavel Zacha has managed to produce a point in each game, netting a goal against the Kraken on Tuesday and an assist during their season-opener. Zacha earns additional minutes on the Devils’ top powerplay unit and will likely finish with at least four or five shots on goal, as he has been active in the offensive zone all season. Zacha has a relatively low salary considering the 18:45 average time on the ice he’s received, especially considering his role in New Jersey’s offense. With Jack Hughes day-to-day and likely not suiting up, Zacha is a great grab in Thursday lineups.

Ryan Graves (D – NJ): $5,500
The Devils have seen defensemen Ryan Graves emerge as their assist-leader, totaling three in their two games. The 26-year old defenseman also has a plus-minus of 7, indicating he is very efficient when on the ice. He was traded from Colorado this offseason and he has immediately made himself at home, averaging nearly 24 minutes of time on ice despite not being featured on either powerplay unit. Yet, he is a beneficiary of skating alongside fellow newcomer Dougie Hamilton (D – CAR), who had an incredible year in Carolina last season and has reached 40 or more points in each of his past two seasons. This elevates Graves’ value and ability to set up assists in the offensive zone, which makes him a prime defenseman to target. If you roster Pavel Zacha, pairing him with Graves could pay dividends in Thursday lineups.

Sergei Bobrovsky (G – FLA): $8,000
Sergei Bobrovsky has looked pretty solid in both of his starts in net for the Florida Panthers this season, as he has racked up consecutive wins and stifled the New York Islanders with a .967 save percentage last weekend. He is the confirmed starter at home against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night, who are 1-2 with a minus-three point differential. The Avalanche lack several pieces that helped them make a deep playoff run last season, while the Panthers are 3-0 and sitting atop the Atlantic Division with a plus-eight point differential. Bobrovsky should navigate his way to his third win in his third start of the season, justifying his heightened salary in lineups on Thursday night.

Recommended Plays: FanDuel

FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000

Connor McDavid (C – EDM): $9,300
This may seem like a splashy pick, especially with a ridiculously high salary, however, Connor McDavid has opened the season on fire for the Edmonton Oilers. He has produced multi-point outings in all three games this season, including three goals against Calgary last weekend and most recently netting a goal while also racking up two assists with just two shots on goal in their win over Anaheim on Tuesday. The Oilers run their offense through McDavid, so he will continue to get plenty of opportunities on Thursday night against a struggling Arizona Coyotes team that will have Karel Vejmelka (G – ARI) in the net. Vejmelka has only allowed a goal in each of his starts this season but the lack of offensive firepower limits his ability, especially up against the league’s best offensive player. Fire up McDavid and don’t look back.

Tyler Bertuzzi (LW – DET): $4,600
We’ll go in the complete opposite direction in terms of salary with Tyler Bertuzzi, who skates on both the first-line and the top powerplay unit for the Detroit Red Wings. Bertuzzi has produced a point in each of his three games this season, including an impressive four-goal outing in an exciting overtime loss to Tampa Bay in their season-opener. He already has five goals and an assist and is expected to face Calgary Flames goaltender, Jacob Markstrom (G – CGY). Markstrom has a dreadful 3.43 GAA and has yet to finish above a .900 save percentage in either start, meaning Bertuzzi could rack up a couple of points in the Motor City on Thursday night. He’s a great salary-saving option, especially if you already plugged McDavid into lineups, as Bertuzzi can produce on the offensive end with ease at half the cost.

Erik Karlsson (D – SJ): $4,900
Pairing is the theme of Thursday’s ten-game slate, meaning if you opt to roll with first-line Center Logan Couture, matching him with first-line veteran defenseman Erik Karlsson is a great investment. Karlsson is averaging roughly 20 minutes of time on ice per game and has points in both of the team’s wins, including a three-point contest against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. Available to plug into Thursday lineups at under a $5,000 salary, Karlsson is a no-brainer, as he has a high ceiling, a safe floor, and a great discounted rate. Even if you don’t roster any other Sharks players, Karlsson is a solid defenseman to target.

Alex Nedeljkovic (G – DET): $7,200
Let’s be blunt, the newly signed Detroit goaltender who had a phenomenal stretch in Carolina last season did not live up to the offseason hype and expectations in his first start in their season-opener. Alex Nedeljkovic went 15-5-3 with an impressive 1.90 GAA and .932 save percentage for the Hurricanes but allowed seven goals while in the crease for the Red Wings last Thursday. After a week off, Nedeljkovic is expected to make his second start between the pipes against a Calgary Flames team that has yet to find a win. Their lack of offense also boosts Nedeljkovic’s appeal in lineups on Thursday night.

View daily consensus odds from all major sportsbooks for the NHL at BettingPros >>

Matthew MacKay is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matthew, check out his archive and follow him @Matt_MacKay_.

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